The effect of local speaking rate on the perception of quantity shown by Estonian subjects  

Hartmut Traunmüller & Diana Krull



The Estonian language with its elaborate system of contrasts in quantity, whose essentials are described, is used to investigate human perception of distinctive contrasts in the duration of vowels, consonants and larger units. In the experiments reported, the speaking rate of a preceding or following syllable was manipulated in addition to that of a V, C or VC-sequence that carried a quantity distinction in disyllabic words. The results confirmed that the second syllable in such words, in particular the duration of its vowel, serves as a reference, but they showed segments of additional syllables to contribute in the same sense. The results provided no support for ascribing quantity to any larger units than phonetic segments. Since similar effects of a following vowel have been observed in Norwegian, but not in non-speech replicas, the effects appear to be specific to speech, but not necessarily to Estonian.

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